Fashion is ephemeral and the only constant is this: trends come and go, but more often than not they do come back. Hence the resurgence of the mini bags once again. If you’ve been following fashion closely, you’ll already know that these miniatures have been all the rage in the last two years. Jacquemus’ Le Sac Chiquito, a top handle bag measuring 7cm, became an instant viral sensation when it debuted during his Spring/ Summer 2018 show. Many brands may have introduced shrunken versions of their signature styles in the last two years or so. But some have had miniature iterations for much longer. Here’s an abridged history of the Lilliputian bag from the past 30 years.
In the early 90s, Hermes created a rare miniature – a 13cm sterling silver Kelly with a shoulder strap. One of them sold at Christie’s for a staggering US$63,000 in 2015! This sterling silver version of the iconic Kelly continues to be highly prized and remains sought-after today. The 20cm mini Kelly in leather was also produced in the 90s, a daintier alternative to the much larger bag made famous by Grace Kelly. Around that same time at Louis Vuitton, a 16cm miniature version of the classic Speedy was already part of the monogram canvas collection. It was suggested that the mini Speedy HL (HL stood for Henry-Louis, the great grandson of Louis Vuitton) might have been initially launched for the Japanese market at the time.
1995 saw Amy Heckerling’s coming-of-age comedy film, Clueless, make its big screen debut. The film starred a teenage Alicia Silverstone as the fashionable protagonist, Cher Horowitz. In one of the scenes, Alicia-as-Cher is seen shopping at the mall with her friend, carrying quite possibly one of the smallest top handle bags ever featured on film during that period— enough to house just her credit card. The film has since become a cult classic and is one of the finer examples of how celluloid fashion influences bag style and size too. To commemorate the millennium, the year 2000 saw Jean-Louis Dumas of Hermes create the Quelle Idole or “Kelly Doll” bag, a 15cm miniature Kelly with the added features of a smiling face with movable arms and legs.
In 2007, actress and paparazzi “target” Lindsay Lohan was seen wearing an alcohol-monitoring ankle tag during what was a turbulent time in her life. This pop culture reference made it to fashion when Karl Lagerfeld sent models walking down the Chanel runway with miniature 2.55 ankle bags measuring just under 9cm, for the maison’s Spring/ Summer 2008 show. Later, in 2010, Hermes, under the creative direction of Jean Paul Gaultier, launched miniature-sized iterations of the iconic Kelly and Birkin. The Birkin Micro, measuring 15cm, is the smallest in the Birkin family (others are 25, 30, 35, 40 and 50cm), and is the only one that comes with a shoulder strap.
2014 saw Tod’s release the mini D-Cube frame bag, a modern but shrunken version of Tod’s signature D-Styling bag – its size was a mere 10cm and made for a perfect cross-body/shoulder carry coin purse. In 2017, Belgian luxury goods company Delvaux launched Les Miniature Belgitudes – 7 mini (8cm in size) top handle bags derived from the brand’s signature Brillant bag. A year later, in 2018, Simon Porte Jacquemus’ Le Chiquito was born. Miniature bags continue to arrive on the fashion front today, with the latest pieces coming from Chanel’s Cruise 2021 collection, the show for which saw micro-sized classic flaps hung on belts and worn as necklaces.
Here are my 5 mini bag recommendations which are more “functional” size-wise.
Loewe Gate Mini
This shrunken version of the tuck-flap saddle bag that Loewe debuted in Spring/Summer 2018 measures approximately 17cm in size. It can be carried cross-body or on the shoulder.
Fendi Mon Tresor Mini
Measuring 12cm x 18cm, this mini bucket bag by Fendi packs plenty because of its volume. Functional and versatile, the Mon Tresor Mini can be carried two different ways, with its detachable top handle and longer shoulder strap.
Hermes Mini Lindy
Easily the cutest bag after the mini Kelly is Hermes‘ diminutive mini Lindy. Launched in 2019, this is the smallest size of the maison’s Lindy bag at 20cm. The bag comes in four other sizes (26, 30, 34 and 45cm) but this is, hands down, the most adorable one.
Prada Galleria Mini
Prada’s Galleria tote was an instant hit when it first came out, so to have it shrunken to this 20cm size while retaining its functionality as a multi- compartment bag is a big plus. The bag has two zipped pockets and a main compartment, and can be carried two different ways.
Valextra Mini Iside Mini
Valextra’s Iside top handle bag is a classic and timeless style that will transcend trends. This mini bag measures 22cm and is a good size for a day or night carry. It also has a shoulder strap so the bag can be carried two ways for added versatility.